In a back issue of an Italian cooking magazine (La Cucina Italiana) I saw a recipe for seafood cooked in foil. I have been cooking food in foil for years. I remember my mother used to cook pork chops in foil when she didn’t have a pan big enough for the amount of food she had to cook. She put some simple seasonings on top like a slice of onion and a bit of salt and pepper, popped it into the foil and cooked it directly on the oven rack. The foil captured flavors amazingly well.
The recipe I saw used the foil in a way that I had not. All the seafood was cooked on the stove-top in different batches (to accommodate the different cooking times of the fish being used) and then the dish was finished off in foil in a very hot oven. I decided to use that method to cook something completely different; sausage, chicken & spaghetti.
The foil worked wonders with the flavors and it is definitely a method I am going to try again and again with other pasta dishes. It also took on a ceremonious quality with the unveiling of the food at the table, so, it might be a good dish to prepare when you have friends over – nothing like a little drama at the table to set the mood of an evening!
You will Need: 1 sweet onion, small dice, 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 lb sausage (Italian or flavored, I used an apple & onion sausage), removed from casing & cut into 3/4″ pieces approx. 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthways & cut into bite-sized dice, 1/2 cup white wine. 2 tbs freshly chopped oregano, 6 plum tomatoes, skinned, pulp and seeds removed & diced, (I used tomatoes from a can of San Marzano which were already peeled), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, 1 Haas avocado, quartered & sliced (optional), 3/4 lb – 1 lb spaghetti, (I find 1 lb too much for 4, but if you have hungry people, go with 1 lb), 1/2 cup pasta water (scoop water when you cook spaghetti).
1 – Prep all ingredients above before you begin. Put big saute pan on low/medium heat and add 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil. saute onions and garlic for 8 to 10 minutes until onions are soft.
2 – Add sausage and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so as to cook meat on all sides.
Put pasta water on and cook spaghetti according to instructions. Time so as it is ready by the time you have finished cooking the rest of the dish (through # 3). Scoop out a 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining and set aside.
3 – Add chicken and cook for another 8 minutes. Then add the wine, oregano, pepper flakes, salt, pepper and diced plum tomatoes. Stir everything together. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven 475*
4 – Take 4 pieces of foil and double each piece. It should end up being about 18″ (45cm) long after doubling. Fold up each edge about 2″ to make a sort of container for the pasta and the sauce.
5 – When pasta has cooked add the pasta water to the sauce and then the spaghetti. Give everything a stir. With a tongs divide the pasta between the foil and top each with the meat mixture and spoon the pan juices into each parcel. Fashion it into a pouch and place on baking tray. Cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Serve in foil (although I found I didn’t like digging my fork into the foil) or slide the entire dish onto a plate. Top with avocado slices if you choose (you should try it!), pepper flakes and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.